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Scrapbooking is one of those crafts that has a light and a dark side.

First, the light side. I began scrapbooking back in the early 2000s shortly after I met my husband.  I loved the joy of being able to take the photos that we were collecting on things that defined us as a couple: wild orchids, our family heritage, our last pet Beagle, Billie, etc., and put them into books that were not only protective of them but also beautiful to look at and provided our collective story. Since then I have continued to scrapbook and have completed a number of albums. These include:

  • One album dedicated to our tenth wedding anniversary vow renewal ceremony
  • One album that contains professional photos of our daughter’s first 12 months
  • Nine albums that capture the details of our daughter’s life from birth until 8 years old.  I intend to create one album for each year of her life up until she is 18 years old.  These will be a wedding gift to her someday.

As for the orchid, pets, and family heritage books, let’s just say that they fell by the wayside a while back. I may continue those someday, as well as a nice wedding album (we’ve been married almost 15 years), family vacation albums, and perhaps one for myself about my life as a tool of self discovery.

On to the dark side of scrapbooking:

It TAKES TIME, LOTS. OF. TIME.  There are some very speedy women out there (not me) who can get tons of pages done (also not me) in a short amount of time (definitely not me). I tend to spend a lot of time on my pages because I like to make them look as pretty as I can. Some days my scrapping brain is firing on all cylinders and I can create a page in less than 15 minutes.  Most often I end up staring at my page more than working on it, waiting for inspiration to hit.

Besides the time part, scrapbooking also take SPACE, LOTS. OF. SPACE. If you have been scrapbooking for any number of years you have probably begun to collect a large number of materials, from papers to stickers to embellishments to special tools and everything else you can think of. When I work on a page I spread waaaaay out. Having all of my materials within my reach, easily grabbed at a moment’s notice, and easy to store is very important to me. It can be hard to do this on a standard kitchen table or even a standard desk. Aside from some of the luckier people who have put pictures of their beautiful craft spaces up on Pinterest, most people have smaller rooms that aren’t set up for scrapbooking in an efficient manner.

So how did I manage to complete albums and also continue to work on other ones? I attend scrapbook retreats!

Twice a year, usually in Spring and Autumn, I get together with a group of wonderful women who scrapbook. The head of these retreats rents out a space in a hotel for a weekend from Friday evening to Sunday evening where she has large, rectangular tables set up and any number of tools and materials to borrow or purchase (she’s a Creative Memories consultant). She charges a fee to help cover the cost of the room and meals. She also reserves a block of rooms for those who want to get away from home for a night or the weekend, although I tend to drive home every night to save money. We are in the process of working out an alternative plan for meals and tools usage to help make it easier for her to keep holding the retreats. There is no pressure to buy anything from her, but materials are available for purchase if needed. I always end up buying at least adhesive cartridges and some paper. However, she simply holds the retreats for the purpose of giving us the time and space to get our work done while enjoying good company, good food, and plenty of stories.

Here are some pictures from our last scrapbook retreat…

The room setup

Our fearless leader, Jane!

My favorite tool- the Cricut!

Spreading out to work

Scrapbook page in progress

At this last retreat I was able to finish about half of my daughter’s nine-year-old scrapbook. She is currently 10, turning 11 at the end of May. So, yes, I am a bit behind, but not terribly. Having two and a half days dedicated to nothing but scrapbooking is extremely helpful for getting my work done. Packing up my materials is always a work in progress, but I am getting better at it. Basically, here’s how I get everything there and back home again without using a U-Haul.

  • I have one large bag that holds most of my basic materials, like my current scrapbook, adhesives, cutters, punches, some embellishments (buttons, ribbon, etc.), Xyron sticker makers, pens, tool kits, idea books, extra pages and page protectors.

Here is 1 of my favorite idea books:

I love her page style and ideas for different page themes. Back to supplies…

  • I keep my papers in accordion and hanging folders in boxes, organized by color family and/or occasion.
  • I have one fabric cube bin dedicated to usable scrap left over from other pages.
  • I have a bag that holds accordion folders full of stickers and embellishments.  This is a bit messy, so I plan to upgrade in the near future.

These storage supplies can be bought through Amazon.com.

  • I have my Cricut and cartridges (but did not bring it this time because Jane brought hers).
  • I have my small pail with additional pens, pencils, poker tools, scissors, and other heavily used items.

That’s it. To stay organized with my photos I always pull any photos for upcoming scrapbooking before the next retreat. I store these in a Creative Memories Power Layouts box by page and pick the best of them for my pages as I work.

Power Layouts box

Each divider relates to photos for a specific page

The rest go back into a storage box.

Small photo storage box- closed. Fits most 4 x 6 photos.

Photos are organized with labelled divider cards

Unfortunately, Creative Memories no longer sells the Power Layouts box. You could probably make your own with a 12 x 12 paper storage box and pieces of 12 x 12 cardboard for dividers. The boxes can be purchased through any craft store or Amazon.com.

Believe it or not, all of these supplies fit into my car. It takes me about 20 minutes to unload and load them in an organized manner at the beginning and end of a retreat. My husband is a saint with loading and unloading all of it at home, and I get help from the ladies when I am at the retreat site due to my bum shoulders.

Doing these scrapbooking retreats is also a great source of inspiration. I love looking at the work that the other women are doing. We have a few speedy ones who get TONS of pages done each retreat. I’m the snail, usually finishing anywhere between 8-15 pages per retreat. Still, that’s better than none and they add up fast.

Every time I go to a retreat I tell myself that I will continue to work on my scrapbooking before the next one, but it never happens. Why? Time and space.

My plan to deal with this will be the subject of another series of blog posts coming soon. I am very lucky to have a room that I can dedicate to crafting, and I have been looking at ideas for organization and furniture that will give me the kind of space where I can get my work done and stay organized. I have a set (tight) budget of $250 for this room redo, so some creativity will be needed (thank you, Pinterest!). These posts will share my reorganization plan step-by-step and can be applied not only to craft rooms but to any room in your home.

Until then, don’t let the dark side of scrapbooking prevent you from completing beautiful albums. Retreats are held all over the US. Check with your local craft stores or scrapbook supply stores for information on any open crops or retreats that they might hold. If you use Creative Memories products, ask your supplier if she knows of any retreats or would be willing to hold one. Or, if you are more adventurous and know a group of people who scrapbook, why not try setting up your own scrapbook retreat? Splitting the cost of a room in a hotel can make it a cost-effective way for many people to get their books done so they stop gathering dust. You can make it as simple or as elaborate as you would like. By dedicating specific time and space to working on your albums, even only twice a year, I guarantee you that you will be able to get them done. If a snail like me can do it, so can you. Have a PrettyJoyful day!